Category Archives: Real Food

Chicken with Apple-Vegetable Slaw Stir-Fry

Two posts in one day!  It’s unheard of in the history of the Backstage Baker blog.  But here’s a real food recipe the Backstage Baker made to carry him through a busy week of rehearsals.  So many people asked for the recipe that I just had to post it here right away (and make it myself!)  Please to enjoy.

Chicken with Apple-Vegetable Slaw Stir-Fry
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups sliced fresh Cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced shallots
3 cups coarsley shredded green cabbage
8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
Snipped fresh cilantro


For the sauce, stir together the first eight ingredients (through salt) in a bowl. Set aside.

In a wok or very large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage. asparagus, and apple; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes more or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Push vegetables from center of wok. Stir sauce; pour into wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return chicken to wok. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Sprinkle with cilantro.  It’s delicious the next day too!


Slow cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

coconut curryBecause theater happens at night, dinner is often a catch as catch can sort of meal for those that work backstage.  Maybe you bring a sandwich in and eat it in your dressing room.  Maybe you order out and have something delivered to the stage door.  Our Backstage Baker, however, plans ahead and makes scrumptious meals he can enjoy for days.   Check out this recipe below!

Slow-cooked Coconut Curry Chicken


2 lb Skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
6 cups Chopped Carrots
4 cups Coarsely Chopped Onions
12 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
2◊ 14∏ oz cans Reduced-sodium Chicken Broth
1 can Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Salt
∏ cup Snipped Fresh Cilantro
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
Shredded coconut


1.  Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat; add chicken. Cook and stir about 3 minutes or until light brown. Drain off fat.

2. In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker layer carrots, chicken, onions, garlic, and ginger.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and salt. Pour over the mixture in cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours.

5. To serve, stir in cilantro and lime juice. Sprinkle with coconut.

Happy Halloween Peppers

A Time to Kill opened on October 20, 2013.  Here’s a photo of James and his stage management staff at the gala opening night party!

Opening NightL. to R.:  David Sugarman (Assistant Stage Manager), Jeff Brancato and Veronica Falborn (Production Assistants) and the Backstage Baker himself, James Latus!

But since opening night, James has been slowly getting back into the swing of cooking and baking.  And he couldn’t resist making this Halloween-themed dinner the other night.  Easy peasy and fun for all ages!

HAlloween Peppers


6 bell peppers, any color (but orange is the Halloweeniest, yeah?)
1 pound ground chicken or beef
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of cooked rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8×8 inch or larger baking dish.

Lightly mix together the ground chicken, egg, rice, onion, tomato, garlic, chili sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Wash the peppers, and cut jack-o’-lantern faces into the peppers with a sharp paring knife, making triangle eyes and noses, and pointy-teeth smiles. Slice off the tops of the peppers, and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff the peppers lightly with the meat stuffing, and place them into the prepared baking dish so they lean against each other.

Bake in the preheated oven until the peppers are tender and the stuffing is cooked through and juicy, about 1 hour.

Dinner (and lunch!) for the week

Rehearsals started on Monday for James’ new Broadway show, A Time to Kill.  He’s been doing pre-production for the past two weeks — organizing the rehearsal space, assembling contact sheets, getting in touch with all the actors and designers, talking to the director about the rehearsal plan —  in short, being the conduit for all information and action for the production.

Now, on a big Broadway show like this, the producers usually cater the first rehearsal (which usually starts off as a big meet and greet between the actors, director, designers, general managers and producers.)  This one was no exception, and James and his assistants helped assemble a generous selection of bagels, doughnuts, cookies and fruit.  Sadly, no Backstage Baker treats here!

But I thought it might be interesting to read about how the Backstage Baker plans his non-baking menus.  Frankly, I’m always impressed at how well James eats all the time, not just for dessert.

So, last weekend, he emailed me that he was “Cooking away for the week. Roasted carrots and beets (not together). Did that Green and Yellow Beans with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette from Melissa Clark’s column this week… it is VERY good and easy. Also since peaches are still in season I did Roast Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Ginger and Basil.”

Not only does he get several dinners out of that, but also lunches.  I WISH I could be that healthy, economical and organized!!  Below are a couple of the recipes:

Roasted Beets


8 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

3.  Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), you may want to add 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Season to taste.

Melissa Clark’s Green and Wax Bean Salad with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
(from the New York Times, August 2013)


1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed
1 overripe large tomato
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves


1.    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Drop green and wax beans into boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and immediately transfer to the ice bath. When cool, drain and dry with a towel and place in a large bowl.

2.    Cut tomato in half across its equator and squeeze out seeds (use for another purpose or discard). Using the largest hole on a box grater, grate the tomato flesh. Discard skin and transfer grated flesh to a medium bowl. You should have about 1/2 cup. Stir in vinegar and salt, then stir in olive oil and garlic. Taste and adjust vinegar and salt as needed.
3.   Add just enough vinaigrette to coat beans, add olives, then toss well. Let sit for at least 10 minutes (and up to 4 hours) before serving. Add torn basil and serve.
YIELD 4 servings
Roast Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Ginger and Basil
(Also from the New York Times, c. 2009)
1/2 pound hard peaches (about 1 large or 2 to 3 small ones, see note)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry (fino) sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch-long piece fresh ginger root, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread or rice for serving.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve peaches, remove pits and slice fruit 1/2 inch thick.
2. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, toss all ingredients except 1 tablespoon basil. Roast until meat is cooked through and peaches are softened, about 20 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil. Sauce will be thin, so serve with crusty bread for sopping or over rice.
Yield: 3 servings.
Note: Peaches can be any stage of ripeness, but firmer ones are easier to work with.